This has been a fun mini-column to write. For my final installment, I’m not going to talk about Magic – at least, not entirely – I’m just going to share a random stream of consciousness. Why? Because that’s who I am.
Ask me how many cards are in my hand during a game and the answer will always be, “Only X, but they’re all really good.” Sometimes they really are good and sometimes they aren’t, but I like to have fun with my answers. (Actually, there’s an exception – if my hand is empty I may answer, “No tricks, no weapons… skill against skill alone.”)
Magic is a game. I take it very seriously, but I’m not in it for the money or the fame or the women. I play because it’s fun… and since I’m playing to have fun, I’m often a bit silly. As in Monty Python silly, illustrated by my match against Zvi Mowshovitz.
A recent example was at the Top 8 draft at last weekend’s PTQ. The judge is giving a speech on procedures when I interrupt him. I point to the guy to my left and say, “Eight.” The I point to each guy in turn, going counter-clockwise, counting down, “Seven, six, five, four, three, two” and finally “One” for myself. Everyone is looking at me wondering what the hell I’m talking about and I explain, “That’s the number of first-picks that should be in your opening packs. I just didn’t want any of you to forget.”
Okay, it wasn’t the best joke but the timing was perfect – especially when the judge had to put enough effort into keeping a straight face that he forgot his speech.
I actually have to exert some effort to keep from going over the line during Top 8 drafts. It’s actually fairly easy in Booster draft, since anything that even resembles communication is out of line. (This contrasts sharply with more casual drafts where it’s not at all uncommon for me to yell out when I get a pack or say, “I knew you’d come home!” when a card that I want tables.) Ironically, I’ve done more antics in Rochester drafts, ranging from kissing cards as I pick them to holding up an imaginary cross when someone else opens a bomb rare. I’ll be far more boring to watch now that Rochester draft has been abandoned.
If, for some incomprehensible reason, you want to act like me at a tournament, here are some tips:
- Never say, “No blocks.” Say, “I’ll block with my face.”
- In a high-pitched voice, say what you’d like your opponent to do. For example, if you’ve got a Gnarled Mass and he’s got Humble Budoka and Kitsune Blademaster and he’s contemplating an attack, say, “Attack with just Humble Budoka.” Then shake your head and act like you think he really said it, answering, “Okay, block Humble Budoka with Gnarled Mass,” as though you’re wondering whether he’s got Roar of the Jukai.
- Use the same voice to say, “Your turn,” when your opponent is thinking about what he wants to do. This one is sufficiently well-known in Boston that at least two people will use that tone of voice when they’re actually passing the turn to me.
- If someone casts a good spell indicate that you’re not ready to let it resolve and then put frowning on the stack. But be fair, you have to frown if they don’t counter it.
- When making a play that could win the game, announce that you’re putting smiling on the stack and then ask whether smiling resolves.
- Splash Wrath of God in your draft decks.
- Sign your articles and forum posts with “Hugs”.
- Know when antics will be considered rude by your opponent – if he or she doesn’t enjoy them, don’t do them.
- To date, no opponent has been annoyed by me responding to a spell by adding frowning to the stack.
My most bizarre splash: Cabal Patriarch. Hey, I ran three Swamps in that deck!
My most frequent splash with double-mana: Kirtar’s Wrath. I lost count, but I splashed it at least four times.
One day it just occurred to me that I should tell Rob Dougherty how cool he is. I stole an idea from Douglas Adams and told Rob that he was so cool that the only thing worthy of his coolness would be to put him on an island with six beautiful women who would spend their free time thinking of new ways to be nice to him.
Rob replied, “Could you make it seven? Then we could draft.” [Wow, does that sound exactly like Jon Becker. – Knut, who can’t repeat the Becker scenario in public]
“Well, if you’re going to be with a man, Chad is as close to a lesbian as you’re going to get.”
A friend of mine, to a woman who was considering giving up women to be with me.
The cruelest thing I’ve ever said, by far: Mike Flores had just pulled off an improbable win against me in a money draft and was talking some trash. I said, “Mike, I console myself with the fact that although you’ve won this draft and are getting my money, every single other aspect of my life is better than the corresponding aspect of your life and always will be.”
The best part of that story: Years later Mike told me that he’d used that line in an identical situation against Geddes.
A parable that reflects tremendous wisdom: One day a man was walking through the jungle when he came upon a hungry tiger. The tiger chased him to a cliff where the man climbed down a vine to dangle over a tremendous chasm. Looking up at the tiger the man saw that a mouse was nibbling on the vine, which would surely break at any moment. Looking about for a means of escape, the man saw some wild strawberries growing on the cliff face. He picked one and ate it…and enjoyed it tremendously.
Alternate ending that some say is how the parable was originally told: He picked one and ate it…and it was poisonous!
“I’m not going to cheat. I don’t have to cheat to beat you.”
-Tom G., during the match
“You did cheat and you didn’t beat me.”
-Me, after the match
Random fond memory: Game three of an Extended Grand Prix. In game two my Trix opponent had wrecked me with Massacre. In game three he tried to do it again, and was confused when I said, “That resolves,” but didn’t take any of my Slivers off the table. When he said, “Your guys are dead,” I explained that two Muscle Slivers are better than one.
Another random fond memory: Countering all of Randy Buehler fun spells and then killing him with his own creature during the first (and only, if I recall correctly) Multiplayer Invitational.
Favorite line of another Magic player: “Spring forth, burly protector, and save me!”
The Mise that wasn’t. At GP: Chicago I tried to snag some free publicity for one of my games. Our team name was Succession and given our standings we were ripe for a feature match. Some random guy named Ted Knutson was in charge of choosing feature matches so I asked him to hook us up. He did… and then no one covered it.
Random fame incident. My best friend’s wife was doing her residency at a hospital in Alburquerque, New Mexico. She found out that some of the other doctors there were into Magic and said, “Oh, my husband’s best friend, Chad Ellis, plays Magic.” According to her, their jaws dropped and they said, “You know Chad Ellis?” Go figure.
Number of Magic players older than me: none. Well, theoretically there are some but not really.
Hugs ’til next time,